Sexism and the Israeli military

Senior officials are caught on tape making fun of female soldiers

Israel’s defence minister and military chief of staff are in trouble for chauvinistic comments that were caught on tape. Last Tuesday, Ehud Barak and Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz were watching an army exercise when Barak jokingly asked where the “girls” were. Gantz responded the female soldiers were on break, that “they sing during their break”—meaning they don’t do it on duty. The comments touched a nerve because they were making light of an incident in September when religious male soldiers—who want more gender segregation in the military—walked out of a ceremony rather than listen to female soldiers sing.

Adding to the alarm was Gantz’s reaction when he realized the comments were recorded. He warned the journalists not to air the comments, cautioning Nir Dvori of Channel 2 that “otherwise this will be your last story.” Soon, however, the online news site Ynet broke the story. Gantz later apologized.

While the two Israelis thought their gaffes might stay secret, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera had no such luck at a conference in Mexico where he “joked” that “when a lady says ‘No,’ she means ‘Maybe,’ when she says ‘Maybe,’ she means ‘Yes,’ and if she says ‘Yes,’ she’s not a lady.’”

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